awareness (6)

30 year reflection

I created this Ning forum in 2007 to support the growth of intermediaries who would help volunteer-based youth tutor/mentor programs reach more kids in high poverty areas of Chicago and other places with long-term support that helped those kids through school and into adult lives.

The site shares a strategy that I started in 1993, and named, Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC).   In 2011 I created the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC to continue the T/MC in Chicago and help it grow in other places.

Ning changed its hosting structure nearly 10 years ago and it became less valuable as a networking and idea sharing forum.  I kept using the site through 2015 to host interns who worked with me in Chicago and to share photos from conferences and other actions of the Tutor/Mentor Connection.

It still offers potential for people from around the world to connect and share ideas for duplicating the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy in other places.

Every January I write a reflection.  You can see my 2024 article at this link.

If you're creating an intermediary with similar goals and you share ideas via a blog and visual essays, share links to your work in this forum and on social media sites.  

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The Intern's Graphical Mood

I finally feel as though I pretty solid grasp on what this program can do for people, and I had a revelation on how to graphically represent it.  Whenever I think about the Cabrini Connections or even the Tutormentor Connection organization, I find myself thinking of a Jenga block tower, in which some children have many pieces missing due to 12637701466?profile=original lacking in educational opportunities, positive role modeling, or other influences as a result of living in a neighborhood of low social economic standing.  The more pieces that are missing, the more likely the tower (the child's chance to succeed) is going to topple over.  This is where tutor/mentor programs can come into play, by adding the missing pieces to the child's tower of success.  This process has to take place on every level of the child's life, as even one section missing many blocks can still cause the entire collapse of the tower.  This has to continue onward throughout the child's educational development, so one can envision many different towers for each stage of a child's life towards obtaining a career.


This same concept applies to non-profit tutor/mentor organizations, as they need to work together and funnel the appropriate resources to the appropriate places in the tower that need it.  The organizations themselves may also have pieces missing either in what they provide in services or in basic resources such as funding, volunteers, or networking.  A tutor/mentor program is able to utilize volunteers who will stick with the program for a series of years, and will become more and involved in a child's life as a result of personal commitment and attachment to not only the academic aspect of the program, but in terms of the other factors influencing the child's life.


This is just a first rough draft, and it will be modified to represent the ideas that I am presenting in the above text.  I look forward to any feedback on this project, both positive and negative, so don't hesitate, just be careful not to knock my tower over...JENGA!


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I'm trying to create a visualization that any youth serving organization might be willing to use to visually communicate what time of day they reach youth, what age range they serve and what types of learning and mentoring activities are offered.

This is what I've done so far.  This could be downloaded and colored in by hand, then scanned and uploaded as a jpg. Perhaps it could be imported into photo shop or a paint program and colored in.  Or perhaps someone could create a graphics program that enables people to fill in this information via their computer, then produce a jpg that could be posted on their web site.

If we found a way to make this easy to create, and to motivate a larger number of organizations to put this on their web sites it might have two benefits. Programs might see activities that are included in work of other programs and try to duplicate that in their own programs. Donors might begin to differentiate between school based, non school, volunteer based, etc. and use this information to support fund raising or volunteer involvement decisions.


The collection of information about programs, based on what they do, needs to also be part of a matrix showing who they serve, and where they are located.  Programs operating in big cities have a different costs of operating framework than programs in smaller communities.

I don't know of anyone collecting and analyzing this information.

In the next class of interns I'll offer this as a project.  If anyone viewing this would want to create their own version and share it, please do.

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Cabrini Madness Strikes

This is a post a long time in coming, but due to illness and other academic related stresses, I have not been able to make mention of the fund-raising team that I am on.  My team is comprised of both staff and volunteers, and it is a part of the Cabrini Madness fund-raising event.  It's one of many fun ways that the staff and volunteers here come together and try to raise money to support the on-going efforts of this organization as it strives to address the academic challenges facing many children living in communities of lower socioeconomic status.

I encourage you, even if you do not wish to donate, to at least check out the organization's website, and perhaps there are others that you know that would love to help out those in need.


PS.  My team is in last place, and is in desperate need of some support!

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Social Desgin Blog - great reading

In the groups and blogs on this forum you can see how interns working with me in Chicago are creating visualizations that communicate our ideas in new ways.

In this blog titled Design for Social Change the writer provides tips and reasons to use design to communicate ideas.

I hope members of the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum, not just my interns, will take a look and begin to find ways to communicate their vision, strategies, needs and ideas visually.

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12637695697?profile=originalIn other articles I've pointed attention to the year-round strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection and shown how the May and November conferences have helped to get stories in Chicago media.  I've now created a page on the web site where you can view and read many of these past view articles.


Imagine how many more articles might be written about tutoring/mentoring programs if the many members of this forum began to take an active part in the May and November conferences or the August/September Back-to-School volunteer recruitment campaign, encouraging media to tell the story from their perspective, and focusing on their program and city. 


The next conference is November 7, 2014 in Chicago and I don't encourage anyone from beyond the Midwest to try to attend.  If you're close and can do a workshop or be a participant, visit the web site and then register or submit a workshop proposal. If you are already planning to attend and/or host a workshop, then why not send a press release to your local media and see if you can generate a story showing why you do what you do and why networking and learning from peers is important.

If you'd like a copy of a handout we've created, just post a note and I'll send it to you.  If we can generate more news coverage on a regular basis we can also attract more volunteers and donors to support what we're all trying to do.

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